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tv   [untitled]    April 23, 2012 2:00pm-2:30pm EDT

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washington as we've had in dramatically reducing the volume and the cost of earmarks. 98% reduck sthun is serious progress and i think we ought to celebrate that. of course the previous speakers are exactly right. that celebration can't allow tuesday overlook the fact our work is not done. there is every effort to resume this process as we've heard and it's true that the problem of earmarks goes well beyond the several hundred billion dollars in earmarks that have been identified in recent years. but it actually is the grease that skids the path for bloated spending of all kinds. so, i do think that a permanent ban is necessary, the legislation that i drafted would accomplish that by allowing any individual senator to go down to the senate floor, and offer a point of order against a particular earmark in any given
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bill. it wouldn't take down the whole bill, it would allow him or her to strike the offending earmark. it would require a two-thirds vote by the senate to override that earmark. now, it's hard to get two-thirds of the members of senate to agree that this is april. so i think it creates a very high hurdle which is exactly what we ought to do. i for one am actually somewhat optimistic that we got the 40 votes. certainly it's not the outcome that we need and that we want but it's progress. and this is the kind of thing that i think will require multiple votes, it's going to require input from constituents, the american people are overwhelming with us on this. they understand what a terrible process earmarking is and how it leads to other very bad outcomes so i think if we stay at this, tom and thanks largely to your leadership, i think we're going to go from 98% success to 100%
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success and make it permanent. i'm going to stay in that fight. thanks very much. >> thank you, senator. next we have congressman jeff flake who we hope to continue to see up here. he is again another long standing attendee, and supporter for the elimination of earmarks and the republican sponsor of the toomey version of the bill in the house. >> thank you, tom. thank you citizens against government waste. obviously we wouldn't be celebrating what we are today without their efforts. over the years it's been an interesting process. i think on the house floor i've challenged some, well, several hundred individual earmarks, and you know how many of those votes we won outright? one. just one. just one. it was republican earmark and the other party hated that republican more than they loved their earmarks i guess on this one. so, it actually went down. but a funny thing happened,
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started happening, though. members would find out which earmarks were being challenged and rush to the floor to beat tlus so they could withdraw their earmark rather than defend it. you add the bridge to nowhere and the correction with it. my personal favorite where i kind of knew that this process was going to come crashing down, is i had challenged previously the earmark for the punxsutawney weather museum in punxsutawney, pennsylvania. the sponsor of that earmark thought we'll show them, we're going to show them how vital this is. the mayor of punxsutawney came with his top hat and his rodent, phil. and had a press conference. and at the appropriate time they pulled phil out from behind the podium like the stump. and unfortunately phil's bladder problem made it -- they had to go back pretty quickly. but i thought what a spectacle. and if people didn't know how out of control this process was,
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they certainly knew it then. so, i'm glad to be where we are. but senator mccain mentioned and pat and others we've got to go much further. pat toomey introduced a great piece of legislation. i'm happy to co-sponsor or be the sponsor in the house to make this earmark ban perm nantz. another thing we need to do as well is we control the power of the purse. the ear markers pretend that means we have the ability and should have the constitutional right to earmark. what it means we should provide oversight on how the federal agencies spend money. if we don't think they are spending it correctly we rein them in. we establish the parameters in which money is spent. doesn't mean that we look and see their abuses and pile on spending abuses of our own. that's what the ear marking process came to be. so thank you again to citizens against government waste. let's keep pushing until we can make this permanent. >> thank you, congressman flake. i do need to interject, one of
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the most enjoyable occasions during all of these years of examining earmarks we made punxsutawney phil the porker of the month. next we have congressman jim jordan, chairman of the republican study committee and another supporter of the elimination of earmarks. >> thank you. just go back five years ago. i was sworn in january 2007. someone would have predicted that five years down the road that both the house and the senate would have a ban on earmarks, democrat controlled senate, republican controlled house, no one would have predicted that. that's a testimony to the work of tom and citizens against government waste and the folks up here talking. i want to commend everyone who has been involved in this effort and particularly senator toomey and soon to be senator flake for their work on this earmark ban. as jeff said, we need to hold the agencies accountable. i want to highlight one program, that's driving me crazy, the american taxpayers crazy but and senator mccain referenced this.
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relative to alternative energy forms. what is going on now in the department of energy is unbelievable. in this loan guarantee program, 27 companies got your tax dollars, 23 of those companies had ratings of double b minus from fitch and standard & poor's, another way of saying they were junk rated. no private money would go there. yet it was okay to put american taxpayer dollars into these organizations and eight of those 23 companies had close ties to the obama administration. so, while we have to focus on earmarks we have to do exactly what congressman flake talked about and hold these agencies accountable for the goofy spending and the goofy programs that they are promoting. and i know that tom and his organization will be on top of that effort as well. again, i want to commend everyone involved in this effort and celebrate the progress that we are beginning to make and with that i'll yield back. >> thank you, congressman jordan. we are well aware that earmarks
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are not the only examples of wasteful spending. we have plenty of work to do when they are hopefully eliminated. next dr. tom price, the chairman of the republican policy committee. >> thanks, tom. thanks so much for the incredible work that cagw has done over 21 years to make this book small. i remember when i was in the state senate this book was a different shape but also a lot thicker. if you look at these charts here, you'll see that this is the least number of earmarks that have been put forward in congress where we've had a press conference to celebrate. so we ought to be celebrating for a short period of time, the decrease in number and the smallness of the book. but public policy is a process. and the -- something changed there. if you think about what happened, the leadership in the house of representatives changed. so i want to commend the leadership in the house and my colleagues in the house of representatives for making
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certain that this is the slope of the graph that we see beside us here this morning. public policy is a process which doesn't mean it has to stay down there. so, the work of cagw and the incredible work of my colleagues in the house and those supporttive in the senate and the american people who are demanding accountability and transparency when it comes to spending and demanding that we not load up larger pieces of legislation so that they can get passed as other individuals have referenced. so, i'm pleased to be back at this press conference, tom, i look forward to coming back next year to have a flat line, a flat line on these charts to the left. thank you. >> thank you very much. then we have congressman paul broun who on the vote ratings of the council for citizens against government waste had 100% three years in a row and taxpayer super hero and obviously opposes
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earmarks. >> i've been around politics for a long time. this is the smallest pig book i've seen. god says my people destroyed for lack of knowledge. tom and citizens against government waste are informing the american public about how their elected representatives are wasting their money. i've got four questions i ask myself about all legislation. the first one is, is it right, is it fit the judeo christian biblical principles the nation was founded on. the second, is it constitutional according to the original intent. third, do we need it, fourth, can we afford it. makes my voting a lot easier by going through those four questions. and tom, i wish all members of congress would use those same questions and then we wouldn't be here talking about earmarks because most of the spending in the federal government is unconstitutional. according to its original intent. you see, the only way we're going to stop this earmarking process and have a permanent ban
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is for the american citizens to demand a different kind of governance. i mentioned my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. and tom and citizens against government waste are informing people about that wasteful spending. and those people all across this nation are the reason that we have a small pig book today. i want to remind you of our former senator dirksen said when he feels the heat he sees the light. there are many members of the senate and the house that need to feel the heat and see the light. there are some of those that need to see the door. these earmarking processes caused more people to go to jail than anything else. i congratulate citizens against government waste and their fight to end this earmarking process and let's go back to constitutional limited government. it's got to be the american citizens demanding constitutional limited government as our founding
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fathers meant it for us to shrink the size of government, for us to go forward so that we are financially viable as a country. so it's going to be absolutely critical for the american people to demand a stop to the earmarking process, to pass the toomey/flake bill as well as stop the outrageous spending that's going on in washington. so i congratulate the citizens against government waste. i congratulate tom and the hard work he's done since 1991. keep up the great work, tom. >> thank you, congressman. and thank you all for joining us today and before we take questions i want to point out and thank shawn kennedy, our manager of research, luke elber, media associate for putting together this really easy -- this really great pig book. and also susan mcetson who brought along bubbles from the place network of new jersey. we used to have local pigs, now
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we have to go out of state but that's okay. it's legal to cross state lines. we appreciate them joining us as well. with that i am happy to take questions and the members as well if you have questions for them. yes, sir. >> i guess the question i have -- >> excuse me. wait for the mike. sorry about that. >> you have this big transportation bill on the floor having a hard time moving through. states cannot handle federal transportation -- national transportation costs by themselves. it has to be federal money that does it. is it the earmarks that you object to, the fact they are sort of stuck in slyly and in secret or just the objection to spending and if it's the slyness and the secrecy, does that mean that there is some way this could be done that you guys would be happy with to get stuff moving through congress? >> historically, 1916 first
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federal highway act no earmarks. 1956, interstate transportation act, two specific items mentioned in the bill. president reagan vetoed a bill in 1987 had $1.1 billion in earmarks. president bush signed a bill that had $24 billion in earmarks. so yes, it can be done. maybe we have to go back 100 years to look at the original idea which was to simply base it on the formulas that congress has adopted. if the members don't like the formula, they can change the formula. but the bridge to nowhere was in the last highway bill. it was clearly a boondoggle among many. not only do these projects make it more difficult to get -- to achieve the goals of the transportation department, but the money for transportation starts from the bottom up. metropolitan planning organization, to the county, to the state. our view would be that you
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devolve the money back to the states and let them make these decisions rather than having the money flow up, get sloshed around here in washington and come back down. any want to comment on that? >> in fact, congressman tom grace from georgia has a devolution amendment to the transportation bill. hopefully we'll have the opportunity to vote on. there's plenty of money. the states can run with it the excise tax on fuel if we'll send it back to the states. that's what a number of us are fighting to try to do. to send those powers back to the people as the tenth amendment says and then we won't have the earmarking process. >> part of the problem with the highway bill over time as earmarks increased, so has the amount of money that's diverted from the real priorities that we have, roads and bridges and going to museums or bike paths or something on the periphery, parks. and what it also means as the
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end of earmarks means that states have -- who have been treated shabbily in terms of the formula will finally have the opportunity to get more of their own funding back. arizona has never done better over the past decades than 91 cents on the dollar. without earmarks the senate bill starts arizona and all states at 95 cents on the dollar. so it's a good thing and as senator mccain mentioned, that those who are pushing the bill conceded it's tougher to move it without earmarks. it should be. and the chairman of the committee actually said now we have to focus on policy. and that's a good thing. >> let me add to the transportation question. in 2 -- in september 2007, senator coburn was given a report from the inspector general at the department of transportation which discussed the impact of earmarks on higher priorities at the department of transportation, one result of
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which was the faa you tooer replacement program was three years behind because of earmarks. so there may be fear of flying generally, i'm sure everything is fine, but it was a perfect example of what happens when these earmarks interfere with the plans that have been made at the agencies and at the state and local level. yes, sir. wait for the mike, please. >> i'm wondering with the ban on earmarks, how are some lawmakers and groups still finding success in getting these projects funded? how are they able to do ha? >> again, these are kind of broad additions to the president's budget so rather than having the names of the members identified with the proje project, they had the 50 million for the drug program. the real problem is transparency after the fact f. that money
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gets spent competitively maybe this moratorium has been adhered to. the problem is that no one knows what's going on at the agency level. our phone call being made. text messages, which are difficult to find. these contacts should be immediately released. they don't like these earmarks either. i think the vast majority, i assume pretty much all of the people at the federal agencies are happy they don't have to answer these phone calls or follow these provisions that in the past have had nothing to do with their daily activities, they also never received overhead to cover the cost of monitoring and spending money on these earmarks, so the east-west center is a good example. the house voted in the state department authorization bill to eliminate funding for the east-west center so. there is an effort all around to get rid of even these smaller less expensive earmarks and we think that will hopefully continue. but again, to answer your question more specifically, since there are no names
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attached to them we're not exactly sure who has asked for them other than the most obvious and the fact that 77% of the earmarks that we can identify as originating in the house or senate came from the senate indicates that the senate is, again, pushing these through. we'd like to see the permanent ban and then hopefully we won't have to do this any more. any other questions? thank you all very much again. thank you again for joining us. thanks to the members. thank you very much. appreciate it. great stuff. absolutely. >> with you on that. >> thank you so much. >> news corporation chairman
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rupert murdoch and his son james this week testified before a judge investigating phone hacking by their british newspapers. it gets under way tomorrow morning live on c-span2 at 5:00 a.m. eastern with james murdoch, former chairman of news corporations british newspaper division. and wednesday and thursday also at 5:00 in the morning rupert murdoch answers questions about the phone hacking, that's also live on c-span2. >> one of the things that i always remember because my office overlooked the building in the plaza was the plaza, there was a daycare center in the plaza and some of the children were killed, others injured. during the recess they would come play out here in the plaza and you would hear their voices, so that left a lasting impression of course when they were silenced. my son, a dear friend of his in high school, she had just graduated was working in the
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social security office and her father was a good friend of mine. but i got home actually that morning i had three different messages, first of all wanting to know what he could find out about his daughter, secondly it didn't look good, and the third message was when he was crying. >> watch our local content vehicles next stop, exploring the history and culture of oklahoma city. special airings the weekend of may 5-6, on c-span2's book tv and american history tv on c-span3. >> an inspector general's report this month found excessive spending at an $800,000 general services administration conference outside las vegas. gsa administrator martha johnson resigned and was replace bid dan tangherlini. they both testified before a committee last week.
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>> mr. tangherlini, you're the new guy? >> yes, sir. >> i see no reason that you will not tell us the truth, therefore, we'll forego the swearing in. i'd ask unanimous consent our witness's full statement be included in the record without objection, so ordered. since your written testimony has been made part of the record the subcommittee would request that you limit your oral testimony to five minutes. mr. miller, since we've received your statement, unless you have anything further you would like to add at this time, we will ask mr. tangherlini to begin. mr. tangherlini. >> good morning, chairman dean ham, ranking member norton, my
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name is dan tangherlini, i'm the acting administrator of the u.s. general services administration. i appreciate the opportunity to come before the committee today. first and foremost i want to state that the waste and abuse outlined in the inspector general's report is an outrage and completely antithetical to the goals of the administration. the report details violations of travel rules, acquisition rules and good conduct. just as importantly, those responsible violated rules of common sense, the spirit of public service and the trust that america's taxpayers have placed in us. i speak for the overwhelming majority of gsa staff when i say we are shocked, appalled, and deeply disappointed by these indefensible actions as you are. we've taken strong action against those officials who are responsible and will continue to do so where appropriate. i intend to uphold the highest ethical standards at this agency including referring any criminal activity to appropriate law
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enforcement officials and taking any action that is necessary and appropriate. if we find any irregularities i will immediately engage the gsa's inspector general, as indicated in the joint letter that inspector general brian miller and i sent to staff we expect an employee who sees waste, fraud or abuse to report it. we want to build a partnership with the ig, while respecting their independence, that will ensure that nothing like this ever happens again. there will be no tolerance for employee who is violate or in any way disregard these rules, i believe this is critical not only because we owe it to the american taxpayers, but also because we owe it to the many gsa employees, who work hard, follow the rules, and deserve to be proud of the agency for which they work. we've also taken steps to improve internal controls and oversight to assure this never happens again. already have i canceled all future western region's conferences, i've canceled 35
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previously planned conferences saving nearly $1 million. i suspended the hats off stores, and have demanded reimbursement from mr. peck, mr. shepherd and mr. neely for private in-room parties. i've canceled most travel through the end of the fiscal year and i'm centralizing budget authority and have centralized procurement for regional offices to make them more directly accountable. i look forward to working in partnership with this committee to ensure that there is full accountability for these activities so that we can begin to restore the trust of the american people. i hope that in so doing gsa can refocus on its core mission, saving taxpayers' money by efficiently real estate and disposing of unneeded government property. we believe that there is a great need for these services and the savings they bring to the government and the taxpayer. there is a powerful value proposition to a single agency
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dedicated to this work, especially in these austere fiscal times. we need assure that we get back to basics and conduct this work better than were. at gsa our commitment is to our service, our duty, and our nation. and not to conferences, awards, or parties. the unacceptable, inappropriate, and possibly illegal activities that the western region's conference stand in opposition to the goals of this agency and the administration and i'm committed to ensuring that we take whatever steps are necessary to hold responsible parties accountable. and to make sure that this never happens again. we need to focus this agency on the basics, streamlining the administrative work of the federal government to save taxpayers money. i look forward to working with the committee moving forward and i welcome the opportunity to take questions. thank you. >> thank you. miss johnson. >> chairman denham and ranking members of the committee. on april 2, 2012 i resigned as
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administrator of the general services administration and left my career as a public servant. i stepped aside to allow a new team to rebuild gsa from the major missteps of the western region's conference in october 2010. i previously served gsa in the clinton administration leaving in 2001. at that time the leadership team was strong, the schedules design excellence and other programs producing much value for customers. when i returned to gsa in 2010, the agency was not the same. a quarter of the executive positions were empty, customers viewed our partnership askance, labor relations were acramonious, the leasing portfolio ballooned and more. nearly two years without a confirmed administrator. my confirmation was delayed nine months. by the time i was sworn in a sequence of four acting administrator had overseen the agency. i did not know there was yet another problem. the western region conference evolved into a raucous, extrav dwant self congratulatory event
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that ultimately belittled federal workers. the expensive planning for the conference was well under way when i entered and i was unaware of the scope. i began as administrator i take this opportunity to thank the overwhelming majority of gsa's 13,000 employees who rose to the task of renewal. their record is extraordinary. energy efficient buildings, competent management of the fleet, the challenges website and more. for my part i set about reconstituting gsa's executive team, after much work customers praise gsa publicly t labor partnership is fruitful, gsa has e-mail in the cloud and will relinquish leases and save millions with its renovated headquarters. however, gsa's performance, tragically, does not compensate for the mistakes of the western region's conference. i greeted the i.g. report of the conference without hesitation, agreeing with all the
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recommendations. i'm extremely agleeved by the gall of a handful of people to twist contracting rules and defile the great name of gsa. this is how that chapter unfolded. deputy administrator susan brita requested an investigation into the conference, the i.g. subsequently shared with us the power point made in 2011. i realize this was a very serious matter, we needed all of the facts, all of them, how ever painful and disruptive. while the investigation continued, we appointed a regional administrator for region 9, relieving mr. neely of that role. established a chief administrative services office reporting to me with responsibility for gsa's acquisition, oversight of travel and conferences and the like. continued streamlining shortening government training conferences, we also cataloged our own conferences and miss brita reviewed expenditures until she was satisfied the controls were in place. upon receiving the i.g. draft report we began disciplinary
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action, revitzed internal controls and adjusted budgets to penalize regions for the wasted money. the the egregious and coarse nature of the evidence and the waste of resources assured a loss of confidence in gsa leadership. therefore, i terminated two appointees in the chain of command, and submitted my own resignation. i personally apologize to the american people, as the agency head i am responsible, i will mourn for the rest of my life the loss of my appointment. >> thank you. chairman denham and members of the subcommittee, thank you for inviting me to testify today. i'm the deputy commissioner for the public building service. i apologize for my remarks at the awards ceremony for the western regions conference. at the time of my remarks i was not aware of the significant spending irregularities,dy not intend to condone wasteful spendi o


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